The witch-light rocketed across the sky, crashing into a patch at the edge of Barrett’s field, where the kudzu had overtaken a 1940 Ford Tractor so completely that its chassis was merely the suggestion of a hump buried under a sea of ravenous and otherwise useless vegetation. Useless, except for the fact that it hid – up until that moment – a twenty square foot victory garden where I grow a few small marijuana plants on account of my, um, eczema.
Tendrils of greenish-white fire began to lick up from the border, and somewhere dogs began barking. Of course this had to happen, and just when I had settled in for the night. I cursed under my breath and rose up from the porch to grab my shotgun.
I had no idea of what that strange light could have been, but ever since the neighbor down the road experienced some unpleasantness vis a vis stepping outside one morning and finding a half dozen cows, his blue-ribbon prize winning sow and a German Shepherd all burnt up and turned inside out amidst some kind of looney-tunes crop circles I make it a point to carry the heater with me everywhere. It pays to be prepared. As my victory garden sits about a quarter-mile from the front porch as the crow flies, I elected to forgo shank’s mare in lieu of the pick-up truck. I ain’t a young man anymore.
2 minutes later I was stumbling and cursing through the tall weeds like an idiot. At the center of where my poor, harmless crops used to soak up rays there was now a large, smoky crater. And at the center of the crater was a smooth, egg-shaped bit of technology no bigger than a Frigidaire. A hatch popped open at the top and I made a bit of a show of racking that scattergun and hoisting it at said hatch.
“You’ll want to come out nice and slow,” I said, sounding a whole lot more confident than I felt.
The voice that came back sounded a bit like that Stephen Hawking feller – the smart little guy in the wheelchair. He’s always going on about things like space-time and black holes from what I’ve seen in the papers; maybe he got it in his mind to try launching himself up there. People are always getting funny ideas.
The voice could have been Stephen Hawking’s, but he wasn’t speaking any English that I knew of. “Dos vedanya,” I think he said. And: “Tovarisch.”
“Never mind all that,” I said. “Get to where I can see you.”
“Da, da…” Two furry little paws popped out, followed by a furry little face. It looked at the shotgun barrel and ducked back down for a minute. Then it came out slowly, hands held high, grinning.
It was a capuchin monkey, wearing an orange jumpsuit. Slung around its neck was a contraption that looked a bit like a “Speak and Spell.”
I lowered the gun, and the monkey hopped down, still grinning. It gestured at the gadget and shrugged. May I? I suppose it meant.
I nodded, and it tapped a few more keys.
That Hawking voice chirped again: “Dos vedanya, tovarisch.”
“Shoot,” I said. “Is that Russian?”
The monkey stood up a little straighter, and tipped me a salute.
“Well I’ll be. Do you speak any English?”
The monkey seemed to consider this for a minute, and then tapped a few more keys. “American?”
The monkey went back to typing. A few seconds later Hawking chirped “Three. Blind. Mice.” The monkey grinned so wide I thought the top of its head was going to slide off.
“Not bad,” I said.
Just then a second foo-lite streaked overhead and exploded somewhere up the road. The monkey screeched and jumped onto my shoulder before I even knew what was happening.
“Friend of yours?” I asked.
He tapped a few more keys, and what came out sounded like “Zadushit Litso.” He was trembling.
“Should we go check it out?”
He paused, and then typed again. “Da.”
___ ___ ___
Whatever it was had smashed into the trailer that used to be Ma Barrett’s Fresh Sushi and Fireworks Stand. It must have torched the fish something awful, either that or Ma Barrett was taking a bit too much creative license with that whole “Fresh” angle.
“Zadushit Litso,” the monkey typed.
“I don’t know what that is,” I said.
He typed some more. “Three blind mice.”
“That’s not helping, either.”
We hopped out of the truck, and my eyes started watering. The rotten fish smell was like a punch in the face. “Ma?” I called out. “Doc?”
“Three. Blind. Mice.”
“Cool it with that.”
From the wreckage of the trailer, I saw something emerge that hurt my head to look at. Imagine what’d happen if a tarantula got an octopus pregnant and then took it to Chernobyl for the “baby-moon”. That’d give you an inkling, but it wouldn’t do this sonofawhore justice. It was wearing something like a fish bowl on something like a head. These aren’t the right words, just something that’ll have to do. One horrible not-yellow not-eye was fixed on me. “Zadushit Litso?” I said.
The monkey nodded. For some reason, he was frantically stripping out of his jumpsuit as this thing scuttled out of the wreckage, advancing on us. It was waving what I’d originally thought was an oversized turkey drumstick, until I saw the fuzzy slipper at the bottom end, and I realized it was the lower half of Ma Barrett’s leg. I racked the shotgun and centered the sight on that eye and pulled the trigger.
I may have forgotten something at the house.
The creature made an awful sound that was a chuckle but nothing like a chuckle. It slithered at us with sickening speed. From the corner of my eye I saw the monkey hurl something. A split second later, a sodden diaper struck the creature in the head, stunning it. Without thinking, I reversed the grip on the shotgun and swung it like a baseball bat.
The not-fishbowl encased not-head exploded, showering us in space-glass, ichor, and monkey-piss. We did a little victory dance, my new friend and I.
Then, a dozen more of those foo-lights ripped across the sky. We stopped dancing. “Zadushit Litso?” I asked.
He didn’t have to type anything. I saw the answer in his eyes.